Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Beware the Kraken!

When the skies are grey and the nights long here in the Pacific Northwest, I often gravitate to the melancholy for inspiration when coming up with themes for art classes.

My English undergraduate degree provides limitless fodder for the melancholic; Alfred Lord Tennyson's The Kraken is one of my favorite examples of this mood.

I read this short poem for my class of intermediate elementary school students, lingering for not very long on the words 'abysmal' , 'shadowy', 'sickly' and...eeeeep!... 'die'!    Rather, I hoped for 'deep', 'enormous', 'slumbering green' to colour the imaginations of these student artists before me.

The plan was multi-faceted: I was going to teach them watercolour grading principles, incorporating minor collage and printmaking techniques also.

Here are the results!


The children did a graded sky, and a wet-on-wet watercolour technique in the sea.

Once the watercolour was more or less dry, we painted the Kraken with a light grey acrylic that I custom blended.  Also, we added colour to the ships (we'd drawn in pencil at the start) with a limited palette of pencil crayons.

A marker cap dipped in some white acrylic paint was our printmaking tool to make bubbles in the ocean.

With paint brushes and white glue, we collaged just a few strips of pastel tissue paper to the ocean, for some interest and texture.

A high gloss acrylic medium washed over the entire image once everything was dry.

Some students decided to go over some of the illustration lines with sharp graphite pencils at the very end.


These works were, happily, very well received by the parents of the students and satisfied my romantic/ melancholic soul this winter...

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Hello, 2016...

Eyes wide open, heart and mind full of designs and ideas...some photo journalling from the past few weeks...


I think the best thing to come home from Oliver's art lesson at school to date!
  This 'lantern' that he decorated, lit our Christmas season every night and will for 
the weeks to come.


Hmmm...the bold contrasts in our living room are making me happy.


I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that a beautiful product would have such beautiful packaging.  This from our New Year's Veuve Cliquot...


Our little Charlotte turned FIVE yesterday.  She's been creating the most interesting line drawings recently.


To wind down at bedtime recently, had the urge to colour a portrait of Marie Antoinette.  I quickly printed a colouring sheet I found online onto watercolour paper, but tiiiiiiny (this portrait is only about two and a half inces in diameter).  This activity would have paired nicely with the aforementioned Veuve, now that I come to think of it.  Next time!


Happy New Year to you all!!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Collage Lesson: Sideboard Vignette

Here's another snapshot from one of my studio classes, this time from 'Collage and Printmaking' for 8 -12 year-olds.

I came up with the subject for this piece in my subconscious, as Mr. Hausfrau and I were planning a petite re-decor of our living space.  A case of "art imitating life"!

These are just a few of the finished collages entitled 'Table in the Hall'.
Mediums: watercolour, phonebook pages, acrylic finishing medium, sharpie.













Always trying to teach multiple art techniques in one lesson, I wove in creating blooms in the watercolour while it was still wet, using saline.




I took the time to create a digital collage of vintage telephone pages to hand out for students who wanted to recreate this project at home but didn't have access to phone book pages to rip up (a rare find these days!)

Feel free to copy this high resolution version for your own makings!




The students created really gorgeous art and learned some new techniques.   I designed the overall layout of this project to be simple, with lots of whitespace so that despite the vintage subject, there would be a modern effect in the end.

It all started with the new/old phone in our newly 'scaped living room...you just never know where inspiration comes from!



Monday, November 30, 2015

November Photo Journal

Woah!  November ran away from me!

I've been happily busy, teaching art around town and keeping haus, as always.  Here are some discoveries and highlights from the past month, in the studio and out:


Winter may never come!  Spotted this lovely flower & herb bed nearby recently.

I was happy to be called upon to fill in for an art instructor at the beautiful Anvil Centre recently.  Happily, the 'handprint birds' the littles and I made were framed and hung in the gallery there!

Mr. Hausfrau and I left the hill for a short escape to Vancouver Island
mid-month with the littles.  The parliament buildings at night are spectacular.

Oliver and Charlotte and I spent a cozy weekend at my parents' house.

Whilst running errands in downtown Vancouver, we stopped into the lobby at the
Four Seasons hotel.  Isn't it lush?  I love all the natural elements and colours
used in the decor.


Students in my "Printmaking and Collage" class worked on some collaged ATC's
recently.  They lingered over the trading session for a long time.  Love it!

On November 11th, we honored those who have served to protect Canada and
remember those who have lost their lives doing so.


And finally, a single from the album I've got playing on repeat these days...




Now that my classes are all done  until the new year, I'm focusing on some new studio works which I will share here soon!


What's new in your world?  Reading, listening, eating anything fabulous you can share with us?  Post in the comments below...I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Trend + City Art

I get regular requests to post my project design ideas sooooo: here's another one!

The girls over at Port and Quarter in Vancouver actually inspired this concept.  The 'hometown homage' has long been on my list of potential art themes and this week I introduced it in both my kid and the adult classes.

With the children, we focused on our own lakeside town, Burnaby, BC (otherwise know as BBY).  I found a comprehensive map of the city, printed off a copy for each artist (in black and white) to use as our collage base.  Then some quick practice at drawing letters, et voila!




Here is the map we used:



After the children cut the map up and arranged the bits on the black cardstock, they smeared some custom blended periwinkle acrylic paint here and there, using plastic forks for some added texture.  They drew the 'BBY' letters onto a pretty contrasting mint coloured cardstock and outlined them in black sharpie.  After they had been cut out and glued onto the page, they used some yellow and orange washi tape (sourced at none other than IKEA!) to add pops of colour.  A coat of clear high-gloss finishing medium was the very last step.

We had many different arrangements from the students.  I think the finished products turned out really well!








Do you have any home decor that pays homage to your city, or a place that you love?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Collage Lesson: Pizza Time

After my recent field trip to Portland, OR, I knew that I wanted to be making more "food art" with my students this year.

Sometimes art is edible; food on the table that really looks too beautiful to eat (we eat it anyway!).  In the studio though, I wanted the kids to fashion our collage materials into "ingredients".  To re imagine the materials on hand.

To start the lesson, I read Secret Pizza Party by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri.  What a funny story!

Once we'd gotten excited about our favorite toppings and that we were about to become chefs (artists) in our own little kitchens (studio), the children started making their own version of the perfect pizza.

I got everyone starting by handing out pre-cut corrugated cardboard rounds.



Sauce, cheese, ham and olives...




Green peppers, anchovies, red onions, mushrooms...



I handcrafted each student one pepperoni slice (lovely wool burgundy felt dotted with creamy white acrylic paint) and one skinny, sparkly anchovy to adorn their pies.




The red onions were printed on as a last topping: paint custom mixed for just the right shade, a plastic cup as the stamp.





We talked a little bit about topping alternatives too:  "what about a pickle and peanut butter pie?" asked one girl.  "Mmmmm...I would love an apple - cheddar pizza" suggested another bright-eyed, sauce-adverse tot.   Anything goes!  One class, where parent participation was encouraged, I passed around a cookbook that included all sorts of combination ideas including truffles, kimchi, and chocolate.  This collage idea could very easily be turned into a project for adults too.  Add a bottle of wine and some snacks; it's an art party!

All in all, a project that sent everyone home hungry for the real thing!  

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Professional Development

I think every art instructor (at least: one I'd respect) should expand their own horizon - to learn a different way of looking at and making things.

Hence: a field trip to Portland for me and my family!


Ok first off:  there were donuts.  And lineups for the donuts.



Alberta Street was crazy fun for me...everywhere I looked, there was another whimsical scene!  (I'm really going to try to use the clothespin inspiration in some way this semester.)




Food is obviously a completely other scene in Portland (we hit the foodtrucks one night...so much fun!).  This sandwich sculpture below by Jessie Weitzel was such a fantastic find.

(Check out my family as germs at the lovely Oregon Museum of Science and Industry!  We spent a wonderful day there too.)




...and more food sculptures, this time in textile form.  Oliver squealed when he saw this knitted roasted chicken at an art shop.

Another great surprise were all the street murals.  I took so many pictures, I can't possibly fit them all in here!

Anthropomorphism was the predominant genre in Portland this summer, visible in the street murals, galleries, coffee shops...it was everywhere!  I'm inspired by some of the greats (and Portland residents to-boot):  Ryan Berkeley, Stephanie Brachmann and Emily Martin to name a few!



Only a five hour drive down the I5 from Vancouver, BC, Portland was a wonderful family vacation.  The city of "beers, beards and bikes" did not disappoint!




Now I'm back and ready to get my art on with all my students...you should all be ready for some Portland-inspired art happening this year!


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